PULP FRICTION: Newspaper war gets all bitchy and kind of lame

We’ve heard repeatedly that competition between Humboldt County’s two daily newspapers has been good for the community. The Eureka Reporter’s advent roused the Times-Standard, which had for decades celebrated its monopoly by loafing off, screwing up, and depriving the community of meaningful daily news.

The awakening was by all accounts a rude one. But after many months of whining and name-calling, the Times-Standard slowly, reluctantly did step up and even man up.

All that’s needed now is for the county’s oldest daily to finally grow up.

Citing an unnamed “press report,” a breathless Times-Standard missive appeared this morning refuting the assertion in today’s Eureka Reporter that Deirdre Peterson, the Fortuna teacher accused of having a sexual encounter with a student, had turned herself in.

In fact she had not–yet–and this was inarguably an error on the part of the Eureka Reporter. A mistake of this magnitude would typically warrant a brief correction–in the Eureka Reporter–not a snarky 300-word smack-down on the Times-Standard’s website.

So why did the Times-Standard go nuclear?

Was Peterson’s precise custodial status really all that important? If left at liberty, would she pose a threat to public safety? Evidently not. She turned herself in within minutes of the Times-Standard’s over-excited exposé, and was quickly processed and released on bond.

A more likely explanation is that Karen Wilkinson, the ER reporter who made the error, is a former employee of the Times-Standard, an organization she left on terms that could cordially be described as uncordial. Relations are said to have been particularly cool between Wilkinson and Kimberly Wear, who is now the TS’s managing editor.

Insiders on both sides today have speculated that it was likely this lingering grudge that caused Wilkinson to cut corners trying to scoop the TS on Peterson’s release–and also caused Wear to set aside her better judgment in favor of rubbing Wilkinson’s nose in the mistake.

In short, today’s news was not about either paper’s readers. It was instead another play in a game of insider baseball that has gone on for so many innings no one outside the two newsrooms even gives a shit anymore.

Still, we think the critics are at least partially right: Competition has made both newspapers better. But competition taken too far can also make both newspapers a complete waste of time.

18 Responses

  1. Total tempest in a teapot. Whether or not a defendant turned herself in at a certain time doesn’t warrant an entire story by a rival newspaper. What bullshit.

  2. The ER has negative credibility at this point

  3. Well put, bugs. You’re right. This wasn’t a big deal, but both sides screwed it up.

  4. [...] Mirror put it very well to say this had nothing to do with inaccurate info so much as personal animosity. I [...]

  5. Over at Heralda’s blog this is being viewed as a big scoop by the TS. Too bad what was scooped wasn’t news.

  6. Too funny.

  7. And my comment awaits Moderation because…

  8. Yeah none of that was news. The ER made a mistake and ran a correction. Should they start running big breaking news stories every time the T-S effs up? If they did, they wouldn’t have time to do anything else.

  9. Not sure why, Anonn, but your comments have now been liberated. Mission accomplished and all that.

  10. The two papers may have both sucked yesterday, with the Times Standard winning the top prizes for both stupidity and bitchiness, but the TS’s coverage of the Peterson case today simply blows the ER’s out of the water. Court filings, people. They contain a wealth of information.

  11. I’m so over this whole newspaper war bullshit. It was fun when it resulted in better news. But these little pissing matches between the two newspapers really are a waste of time.

  12. Agreed, 8:43. Greenson’s probably happy as a pig in shit. Was there even a single day between Gundersen and Peterson?

  13. Love the ‘Pulp Friction.’ A little touch of the Buhne there. I think everyone’s favorite captain would be proud.

  14. Credibility is in the eye of the beholder. Many of us can remember actual decades of Times Standard blunders, most caused by what appeared to be apathy.

  15. I agree that Greenson SPANKED the ER today on that story. Major can of whoop-ass. But that business yesterday was utter bullshit.

  16. They print news? Are you sure, bugs?

  17. Well, lets do a little trumping here! Neither paper has gone the full length to investigate the facts behind the news. Peterson’s accuser/rapist is Jessie Manson/Gribble. He appears to have changed his name, though apparently not legally.

    He and the woman who claims to have had a conversation with Peterson where she says the sex was “fucking amazing,” (yes it was cleaned up for print,) is Tess Mahar. Both Mahar and Mason/Gribble were taken into the Peterson’s home because they would have otherwise been out on the street.

    The Fortuna Police Department has a history of failing to follow up on leads and taking the easy way out of an investigation. In the past they outed a rape-victim after they “believed” she was lying about her attack.

    Investigate rather than report what the County Prosecutor hands you. Look further than the documents. There is Far, far more to this than what it on the surface.

  18. does rob arkley own the mirror?

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